Kurds Safer in Integrated Iraq

Hossein Naqavi Hosseini,Hossein Naqavi Hosseini,

The planned secession referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan has opened up a chasm among Kurds, paving the way for more volatility in the region, lawmakers said.

Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, the spokesman for Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said, "Holding the referendum won't be to the benefit of the [Iraqi] Kurds and will not guarantee their security," ISNA reported.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, which governs the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, plans to hold an independence referendum on Sept. 25. While the vote, which is likely to result in favor of independence, is non-binding, it will give the Kurdish government more ground to demand separate statehood in northern Iraq. The Iraqi government and several other countries, including the United States, Iran and Turkey, have opposed the referendum. Iraqi Kurdistan is a landlocked region that is heavily dependent on its neighbors.

On Sept. 15, the parliament of Iraq's Kurdistan region approved holding the referendum despite Baghdad's warning that it is "playing with fire".

The parliament's session was the first held since the legislature was suspended nearly two years ago, though only 68 of 111 lawmakers attended due to a boycott by the main opposition movement Gorran.

In a recent development boding ill for the region, Kurdish security forces and police erected checkpoints across Kirkuk, a city included in the referendum despite not being in Iraqi Kurdistan's boundaries, after a Kurd was killed in a clash with the guards of a Turkmen political party office in the city, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Pointing to the opposition of some Kurdish parties with the vote, Hosseini noted that Iran had announced at the outset that it would not agree with the separation of a part of Iraq or any other regional countries.

"[Iraqi] Kurdistan region enjoys importance, [if it is] alongside Iraq where it can be influential," he said.

"If Kurdistan was a standalone country, it wouldn't hold any sway and might be the object of power-grabbing countries."

  Israel the Beneficiary

Hosseini said Israel would be the main beneficiary of the secession since smaller and outward-looking countries could be much more easily dominated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become the only leader to support Kurdish statehood, saying Israel "supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state."

In the same vein, lawmaker Morteza Saffari Natanzi said "the occupying regime is looking for a foothold in the region, adding that the United States is backing the secession behind the scenes, although denouncing it publicly.

"America and the occupying regime, distressed at the failure of the Daesh project, are now looking to sow discord among peoples of the region [by creating a new state]," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group. On Sept. 12, the parliament in Baghdad authorized the prime minister to "take all measures" to preserve Iraq's unity, declaring the vote "unconstitutional".

In addition, Iraq's Supreme Court on Monday ordered the suspension of KRG's planned independence referendum.


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